Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Najib Razak ('Merpati') away from prison in Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital for physiotherapy
Latest edition of 'The Economist' touching on SEA monarchies banned in MY. Amundi CIO Vincent Mortier: some parts of the PE industry “look like a pyramid scheme". Putin ominous hint on use of nukes.
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1. MARKET SUMMARY
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
China forgave an estimated USD610mil (RM2.75bil) worth of interest-free loans to African countries last month. The waived loans were of 10 to 30-year maturities. However, the amount is paltry compared to the total lending of USD53.8 bil to Africa between 2000 and 2012, according to the Boston University database. That’s only 1.1%.
864 — the number of days Tesla Inc. held the record for the most heavily shorted US company by dollar amount. The carmaker was dethroned by Apple Inc., as revealed by S3 Partners in a report titled “Apple is the New #1 Short”. The analytics firm showed short interest in Apple has surged to USD18.4 billion, exceeding Tesla’s short interest of USD17.4 billion.
USD131.21 bil — the overall trade between Malaysia-China in the first eight months of 2022, up 21.1% from the same period last year, according to Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Lim Ban Hong. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement is expected to bring the two-way trade between Malaysia and China to a new record high this year.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Corruption, or rather greediness, knows no bounds. This time, our education system.
Between 2017 and August 2022, 59 staff of public and private universities were arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for corruption. 49 of them have been charged in court with corruption. These cases involved a total of RM1.32 mil in ill-gotten money — RM1.31 mil from public universities and RM11,800 from private universities.
One of the cases comes in the form of a Honda Accord — the man works as a Director at the university’s Facilities Management Division. The said man is said to have received a Honda Accord 2.4 estimated to be worth RM174,500 from a contractor from Klang, Selangor, in exchange for getting an open tender contract worth RM1.65 mil. The cost of corruption is 10.5%.
One of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) GE pledges — a women-only public university.
The coalition, which is currently in power, has proposed to include the setting up of the first women-only public university in its general election manifesto. The university will serve as a dedicated research centre for issues concerning women and it will also actively promote women in leadership. UMNO VP Khaled Nordin said the innovative approach could improve the education system.
Unfortunately, our politicians think we need a grand idea to help women — we don’t need a
bloody manifesto or a women-only university to empower women.
Najib Razak apparently has a new nickname — Merpati.
Convicted former prime minister Najib Razak has been admitted to the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital (HRC) for further treatment. Maybe he has an addiction issue — to money or social media; hence rehab was required. Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin debunked our theory — Najib required physiotherapy, but no details were given on his ailment. When will he be discharged? No timeline was given as well. The Merpati codename came about after a message on Najib’s alleged attempt to spend time out of prison on medical grounds went viral — it hasn’t been denied by the relevant parties yet at this point.
On another note, Najib and his son Mohd Nazifuddin survived another day as they obtained an order to stay the execution of a summary judgment entered against them over unpaid income tax amounting to more than RM1.7bil pending disposal of their appeals in the Federal Court. The Inland Revenue Board (LHDN), as the respondent, did not object to the applications by both of them.
DBKL faces a potential lawsuit from eight disgruntled KL residents.
Eight Kuala Lumpur residents, led by former Malaysian Bar chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, want the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to provide information on flood mitigation plans for the upcoming monsoon season. Federal Territories Minister Shahidan Kassim and KL mayor Mahadi Che Ngah are named as the respondents in the letter of demand sighted by Malay Mail. They are given five days to respond, failing which will result in a lawsuit.
On what basis did you ask? The residents cited the Audit-General’s Report published last month on the activities of the federal ministries and statutory bodies. The A-G pointed out that only eight out of 104 (7.7%) flood mitigation measures proposed in 2017 have been implemented or are in the process of implementation. DBKL responded by saying 22 more measures will be implemented in 2022; hence the residents want to know what’s the status of the 22.
Human Resources Minister M Saravanan said the Cabinet has agreed to the recruitment of 10,000 workers from Sri Lanka after receiving submission from the Sri Lankan government.
The latest edition of The Economist has been banned in Malaysia, with no reasons given. The issue is said to contain an article that touches on a sensitive topic — royal succession in Southeast Asian monarchies. Lucky for you, the article is available online — for free.
Retirement Fund Inc’s (KWAP) Nik Amlizan Mohamed CEO said the state pension fund thinks this year’s turbulence in financial markets is an opportunity to buy. KWAP plans to increase the weightage of foreign investments in its portfolio to 30% by 2025 from 20% currently.
The Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the EDGE Group, a conglomerate of 25 companies owned by the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) government, to empower the Malaysian defence industry. Senior Defence Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein was there to witness the signing of the MoU during his official visit to UAE.
H2O, we hope you can ensure whatever technology and weaponry Malaysia gets actually functions as per the expectations of a reasonable individual. The country needs submarines that can submerge, helicopters that can fly and combat ships that are not too invisible.
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Putin dials up aggression against Ukraine, ominously hinting at the use of nukes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a televised address, has called for “partial mobilisation” of the country’s military reservists immediately, which will see 300,000 reservists drafted. Only those with combat experience will be called up, exempting conscripts and students.
In his speech, he baselessly accused NATO of threatening to use nuclear weapons, which such threat was never made and ominously hinted at the use of nuclear weapons to retaliate, although he did not directly mention it, saying that Russia has “various means of destruction” and added, “it’s not a bluff”. The build-up to his announcement saw “how to leave Russia” searches on Google spiked, and after the announcement, one-way flights out of Russia were selling out fast and skyrocketing in prices.
Trouble keeps coming Donald Trump’s way — New York Attorney General to sue for alleged fraud.
After having his beloved Mar-a-Lago resort raided back in August for allegedly hoarding classified documents, former President Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, 3 of his adult children and others are now being sued by the NY AG for allegedly widespread fraud involving false financial statements related to his company. NY AG seeks at least USD250 mil in damages and to bar Donald Trump & Co. from serving as officers of a company in NY. Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to obtain favourable loan and insurance terms for his company and, of course, to lower his tax bills as well.
The evidence shows a “repeated pattern and common scheme” of more than 200 false and misleading valuations of assets covering 2011 to 2021, including his term as the President of the US. This, however, is a civil lawsuit — would appreciate legal opinion amongst our readers on why it isn’t a criminal prosecution.
The US largest Covid-19 scheme fraud — stealing USD250 mil from a programme meant for hungry children.
The Department of Justice has charged 47 individuals involved in a scheme to defraud the US government. The accused, with help from a non-profit organisation, Feeding Our Future, exploited the lax oversight at the Child Nutrition Programme, which provides free or low-cost meals to impoverished children and channelled the funds on travel, luxury vehicles, and property in the US and also in Turkey and Kenya. No surprise in its modus operandi - fake invoices were generated and submitted, listing fake names of children that did not exist, generated by the website listofrandomnames.com - and pocketed the money for meals that were never served,
Private Equity (PE) — a pyramid scheme in disguise?
Left hand selling to right hand — that’s how the hot buyout industry is increasingly operating, creating an illusion of ‘success’. According to the Chief Investment Officer Mikkel Svenstrup of ATP, this looks like a start of a ‘potential pyramid scheme’. He raised his concerns as more than 80% of sales of companies in ATP’s buyout funds were either to another buyout group or “continuation fund” deals — meaning a PE group passes the deal between 2 different funds it controls. ATP is Denmark’s largest pension fund with USD119 bil of assets under management and is a major investor in PE funds with investments in 147 buyout funds. A similar concern was raised in June by Amundi Asset Management CIO Vincent Mortier, saying that some parts of the PE industry “look like a pyramid scheme in a way”.
Oatside, a Singapore-based oat milk brand, milked USD65.5 mil from investors.
The oat milk company raised USD65.5 mil Series A funding led by Temasek Holdings (SG’s sovereign wealth fund), GGV Capital and Arabica International to expand its production and market in Asia. The valuation was not disclosed. The company, founded in 2020, raised USD22 mil and started selling its products in Singapore in February 2022.
Uniper, Germany’s largest importer of Russian gas, to be nationalised.
Already backstopped with a EUR15 bil bailout in July, it wasn’t enough to keep the utility giant afloat and now the German government will now take control of the company as its situation further deteriorated with a reduced supply of gas from Russia and soaring prices. The government will own around 98.5% of the company after buying out Finnish utility company Fortum’s stake of 56% for EUR500 mil. Fortum is taking a large hit from this investment — it has invested EUR7 bil since March 2020, received EUR900 mil in dividends, and now with this EUR500 mil stake sale, it’s walking away with a EUR5.6 bil loss on its investment.